New Georgia QB ready for January arrival
Mark Richt told reporters back in June that he did not expect to take a quarterback in the 2012 signing class. But college football has few absolutes and recruiting has even fewer. Fast forward six months to January and Richt will welcome to Athens quarterback Faton Bauta (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla./Dwyer), who will enroll at Georgia before the rest of the 2012 class has even signed.
"January 4 is the day, and I have orientation the next day,” Bauta said. “I am rooming with Keith Marshall and two other guys, but I am not sure who they are yet. I think they are sophomores on the team. I am excited to room with Marshall since he is such a great player.”
And what is the one thing Bauta has to make sure he packs for the move to college? Lucky socks? Special pillow? Video game console?
“My football,” Bauta said. “I have to have one in my room. I sleep with it all the time. I keep it in my hand like I am in the pocket but I am lying down.”
Such a simple packing list allows Bauta time to reflect on the next stage of his career.
“I am just excited to get there, get to know my teammates and just start working,” Bauta said. “Aside from being excited I am sure I will be a little nervous and flustered when I get there at first, because I will have so many things coming at me. But I usually handle those things pretty well.
“It is definitely different and I am going to miss my teammates, my friends and my family, but you have to do the best thing for yourself. You have to put yourself in the best position to compete and that is all I am trying to do.”
It is that drive to succeed that has Bauta giving up some of the fun things that would normally accompany his senior year in exchange for the brutal winter workouts in Athens.
“Coming in early gives me the chance to work on my timing with the receivers and the running backs,” Bauta said. “It is a huge advantage and that is why I am doing it.”
The reaction to Bauta’s choosing the Bulldogs has all been positive, not that he was worried about it despite having played high school football in Florida.
“My coaches were very happy for me,” Bauta said. “Most of them are Florida guys anyway, but they were still excited. My family is pumped about it and I am pumped about it.”
Bauta is extremely close to his four older brothers, all of whom played FBS ball in the Northeast as offensive linemen.
“They are glad to see that we finally got it right with the last brother in the family going to the right conference to play college football,” Bauta said. “They support me all the way and could not be happier for me. I could not have done it without them. No one ever thought that one of us would go to the South and play at a college in the South, especially one like Georgia. Football here is the real deal.”
His surprise commitment came on the heels of his official visit to Georgia on Nov. 14. It was a late-night affair.
“That night I went to the office and spoke with Coach [Mike] Bobo first and then Coach Richt,” Bauta said. “I told both of them that I wanted to be sure I was making the right decision. I really asked them, ‘Do you guys truly believe I can come in here and succeed as a quarterback and help this team succeed?’ And they both told me, right to my face, ‘We absolutely do believe you can succeed.’ Once I heard that, I was sold because everything else had fallen into place on my visit. I had fallen in love with the place.
"I told Coach Richt at the end of our conversation, ‘If it is OK with you coach, I would like to become a Georgia Bulldog and come play for you.’ At that point he got up and gave me a hug. I just felt like the weight of the world fell off my shoulders. I actually heard my dad sigh, he was so relieved. Richt went and told Coach Bobo. It was 11:30 p.m.”
The promise that he would get to play quarterback was all Bauta needed.
“When Coach Richt told me that he wanted me to come in and play quarterback, and that I was the only QB coming in, that told me he was serious about me,” Bauta said. “It was a match made in heaven.”
Drive Through: Heisman Race
12:00 PM ET Tennessee 12 Georgia 12:00 PM ET Vanderbilt Kentucky 3:30 PM ET Arkansas 6 Texas A&M 4:00 PM ET Louisiana Tech 5 Auburn 7:00 PM ET Missouri 13 South Carolina 7:30 PM ET Memphis 10 Ole Miss 7:30 PM ET New Mexico State 17 LSU